Off-Campus Costs for Institution # SP0032225

Project: Research project

Project Details


PROJECT SUMMARY – The proposed multi-year research program is set in the northeastern corner of the Yucatán Peninsula at the neighboring ancient Maya port sites of Vista Alegre and Conil. Located only 7 km apart, our preliminary data indicate that human habitation along the coast was not continuous over the past three millennia, nor did the occupational histories at Conil and Vista Alegre mirror one another. This episodic settlement history provides tantalizing clues to the vulnerabilities and resilience of these coastal peoples. Our project first aims to investigate what social and environmental factors conditioned the resilience and vulnerability of the inhabitants of Vista Alegre and Conil over the past 3000 years. We then seek to understand how these factors shifted through time and correlated with one another in order to examine how their interplay shaped past lifeways. To address these complex questions, the proposed, interdisciplinary project brings together scholars from the fields of archaeology, coastal ecology, geoarchaeology, and hydrogeology. The past inhabitants of Vista Alegre and Conil, much like the people living nearby today, adapted and responded to the challenging coastal environment of Laguna Holbox, where access to potable water was a challenge well into the 20th century. Over the past three millennia, rising sea levels and fluctuating climatic regimes have dramatically transformed the physiographic characteristics of this drowning coastline, while Maya society witnessed the rise and fall of divine kings and the emergence of a market-based economy. Working within an historical ecological framework, we address our interdisciplinary research questions through the use of sediment coring, water salinity mapping, coastal ecological surveys, archaeological survey and excavations, and multi-proxy lab analyses. By correlating multiple facets of the changing paleoenvironment with broader cultural changes, we will be in a strong position to reveal the challenges faced, and opportunities pursued, by these coastal peoples as they adapted to their changing coastal landscape.
Effective start/end date7/15/156/30/19


  • National Science Foundation (BCS-1530345)


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